By Colleen Rowan
Each year, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston honors young people enrolled in its Catholic schools for being model students. They are recognized at the annual Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools, where the Aquinas and St. Sebastian awards are bestowed. Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused the dinner to be cancelled again this year, the diocese still made this time special for the honorees. Each received a packet with their medals as well as letters of congratulations from Bishop Mark Brennan and Catholic Schools Superintendent Mary Ann Deschaine. Also included were photos and comments from the recipients.
The Aquinas Medal is presented to one student from each school and Wheeling University who best embodies the qualities of Catholic school education: excellence in learning, faithful discipleship, leadership, and service to school, parish, and community. The St. Sebastian Award recognizes two high-achieving student athletes from each high school and WU who exhibit sportsmanship, teamwork, academics (maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA) and a high degree of respect for school, classmates, teammates, opponents, parish, and the community. The recipients of both awards are shown above.
“These awards openly recognize young people who exhibit the faith, character and skills that Catholic schools try to foster in the young,” Bishop Brennan said in his letter. “Students, your hard work, concern for others and trust in God have brought you this far. I congratulate you and pray that you may advance even farther.”
“These young people are exceptional examples of faith-filled students who represent the Catholic schools of West Virginia,” Deschaine said in her letter. “I have had the pleasure to witness first-hand the wonderful Catholic heritage our schools bring to our communities. I congratulate the families, parishes and schools which are home to this year’s honorees.”
The annual Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools has been sponsored by the West Virginia Knights of Columbus for 25 years. Both the bishop and Deschaine thanked the organization for its continuing suppport of Catholic education. Knights Catholic Education Program Chairman Greg Hilleary said the state council donates roughly $11,000 each year in support of the diocese’s Catholic schools.
“These donations have been made available to the Catholic schools of West Virginia for specific grant requests,” he said.
Prior to the pandemic, Hilleary said, funds were presented to the bishop at the annual dinner for distribution to the various schools in fulfillment of their grant request. Although this year’s dinner was cancelled, West Virginia Knights of Columbus State Deputy Paul Niedbalski recently traveled to Wheeling to present two checks to Bishop Brennan—one in support of Catholic schools and another in support of the education of the diocese’s seminarians.
“With the uncertainty of the pandemic still with us, the West Virginia Knights of Columbus remain steadfast in our support for Catholic education and to the children that attend our schools,” Hilleary said. “The Knights want to thank the families who make the sacrifice of providing a Catholic education to their children, and rest assured the West Virginia Knights will always continue our support.”
For list of winners click link below and scroll to Page 7.